Marriage Defined

It is no secret that marriages are under attack in our world.  This is not surprising since marriage is a visible picture of Christ and His Church, what better place for the forces of hell to aim their fiery darts.  In response to this our church tries to have at least 2 marriage conferences per year (with hopes of having more).  As such I have been tasked with using several resources and putting together a curriculum for the conference.

Our very first session is What is Marriage?  In this session we attempt to come together on a theology of marriage.  We begin by defining marriage.  As far as I am aware this definition is original with me.  I would like to share it and then expound on it a bit—hopefully for your benefit.

Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God.

If I pick this definition apart I can come up with seven individual statements (and these are used as teaching points for the first session).

  1. A Binding Covenant.  Covenant’s are a big deal to God.  Breaking covenants is a big deal to God.  To see how big of a deal covenants are consider Genesis 15.  The Lord walks through a host of animals that are ripped asunder and essentially says, “If I break my covenant let what is done to these animals be done to me”.  Covenants are a big deal.
  2. Created by God.  If humans created marriage then we could make the rules.  But marriage is a binding covenant that is created by God, as such He makes the rules.  God created your marriage, so away with this silly talk of having “married the wrong person”.
  3. Between one man and one woman.  The two shall become one.  This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.  This also goes against any arguments for homosexuality rightly being called marriage.
  4. For our holiness.  Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us.  God is not satisfied with us merely having a “good” marriage. God wants to use our marriage to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. God has a rescue plan for your marriage. His goal is not simply to rescue your marriage. His goal is to use your marriage to rescue you.
  5. For our joy.  Our joy increases when we, in holiness, fight for the joy of another.  Marriage can be extremely joyful.  Just read Song of Solomon.  Furthermore, if marriage increases holiness it will also increase our joy in God.
  6. As a picture of the gospel.  Your marriage reflects Christ and His church.  It was created by God to be a visible picture for everyone to see the love between Christ and His Bride.
  7. To spread the glory of God.  The purpose of God for humanity is to enjoy His grace and extend His glory.  Marriage is no different.  He uses marriages to rip out of our heart sin and unbelief. He uses marriage to further our joy. But he also uses marriage to create children, and to raise and nurture children in godly homes.

Your marriage has purpose.  It has meaning.  Don’t give up on your marriage. Don’t stop fighting for your marriage.  Know that God is fighting for your marriage as well.  Have hope in him and keep holding on.

Enjoy your marriage.  God is using it to display His greatness.  Rejoice that the Lord is using the union of two sinners to display His incomparable greatness and Trinitarian love.  Marriage is sweet.  Savor it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Comments

  1. Truth Unites... and Divides says

    “Marriage is a binding covenant created by God between one man and one woman for our holiness, for our joy, as a picture of the gospel to spread the glory of God.”

    Good definition. Would love to have this definition presented to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8.

  2. Randall Cofield says

    Mike,

    Superb post.

    Between one man and one woman. The two shall become one. This means breaking away from parents, past relationships, future relationships, and any other lovers.

    It seems this is showing up with increasing regularity in the couples I counsel, especially the “breaking away from parents” part. Failure to do that can be devastating in a marriage…

    A little disappointed this post hasn’t gotten more traction so far. This is, for Christians, one of the defining issues of our time.

    Thanks for your thoroughly biblical thoughts, Mike.

    • Dave Miller says

      Actually, Randall, this post has a fair number of reads. Controversy drives discussion. There is little that is controversial about this among us. So people tend to read and not comment.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Thanks, Dave. That’s encouraging to hear.

        Now….for a little…controversy…

        Divorce rates among Baptists are as high or higher than among the general population.

        Why?

        And what are we doing about it?

        In 2010 the SBC passed a resolution the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce, in which our churches were urged to:

        “Address the spiritual wreckage in our Southern Baptist churches by our own divorce rates and our silence about the same.”

        Proclaim the word of God on the permanence of marriage, and provide on-going enrichment opportunities.

        Marry only those who are “biblically qualified” and understand the meaning of lifelong love and fidelity, a covenant “until death do them part.”

        Urge those “in troubled or faltering marriages to seek godly assistance and where possible, reconciliation.”

        It appears that even we as Southern Baptists do not, on the whole, embrace the truth of Mike’s point #1.

        How committed are we to addressing this issue which so egregiously undermines our homes, children, churches, and witness?

        Some in the SBC are expending great amounts of energy and effort in waging war on Calvinism. Are we spending anything approaching an equal effort and energy in advancing the war on divorce?

        I am convinced that this is one of the defining issues of our time. Are you? Can this superb blog by Mike engender a discussion thread of, say, 75 meaningful comments?…..

        • Christiane says

          found this . . . can’t vouch for the quality of research done, so it’s best to check two or three references more to see if there is some pattern of similarity in findings:

          “The Barna Research Group’s national study showed that members of nondenominational churches divorce 34 percent of the time in contrast to 25 percent for the general population. Nondenominational churches would include large numbers of Bible churches and other conservative evangelicals. Baptists had the highest rate of the major denominations: 29 percent. Born-again Christians’ rate was 27 percent. To make matters even more distressing for believers, atheists/agnostics had the lowest rate of divorce 21 percent. ”

          http://www.adherents.com/largecom/baptist_divorce.html

          That ’25 %’ divorce rate among the general population does not look accurate, as I have seen it recorded as higher . . .
          and in the article, mention of Catholic low divorce rate comparatively does also state that Catholics seek ‘annulments’ rather than ‘divorces’ in many cases, and by doing so, they manage to stay in the good graces of the Church (in a manner of speaking).

          What kinds of factors are thought to be the reasons for the high divorce rate among Southern Baptists?

  3. Tommy Rucker says

    Great thoughts here. I think, with your permission, I will try to save this to share with couples who come to me for counseling.

  4. Jess Alford says

    Mike Leake,

    Excellent as usual. I just wanted to point out that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God. Those that marry who don’t know Jesus, don’t know what they are getting into. The lost doesn’t have God to walk with them and help them through all their troubles. The Biblical definition of marrage does not apply to everyone, I wish it did. The fact about the matter is that God is not in every marriage.

    I’ve had couples in churches where I’ve pastored, come to me and say they want a divorce. The very first question I ask is which one of you is not a Christian. This first question might seem strange to some of you,
    but I have had the opportunity to lead some to the Lord because of this question.

    A marriage that God is not in is not a marriage, it’s only uniting people
    by the laws of the land.

    Just because the law of the land unites someone in marriage does not make it right, neither a blessed marriage. The law of the land does not make you married in God’s eyes. I just wanted to mention that the only way to have a real marriage is to belong to God.

    The Gay community may unite according to the law of the land, but will “never” be married in God’s eyes.

    • says

      What do you mean by saying, “the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God”. I know that is Romans 8:7 in the KJV but what do you mean by “subject to”? I take that to mean that the carnal man does not submit to/surrender to/acknowledge the law of God. It sounds as if you are saying the carnal man is not under the law of God.

      • Truth Unites... and Divides says

        “It sounds as if you are saying the carnal man is not under the law of God.”

        I took it to mean that the carnal man does not recognize the Law of God.

      • Jess Alford says

        Mike Leake,

        I’m just simply saying that the Bible is not talking about two types of Christians here, but believers and unbelivers. Therefore they that are in the flesh cannot please God. The lost does not submit to the law of God.

        I am saying a tuxedo and a white dress, a preacher and a Bible doesn’t make a marriage in God’s eyes. It’s two believers who love one another, and that God has showed them they need to spend the rest of their lives together. I’ll admit that sometimes lost couples get saved and live happy lives together in the Lord through marriage.

        • Frank L. says

          “”It’s two believers who love one another””

          Jess, see my comment below. I’m not sure I can agree that marriage only applies to believers and therefore divorce is of no consequence in God’s eyes for unbelievers.

          I may not be understanding you fully.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides says

      “I’ve had couples in churches where I’ve pastored, come to me and say they want a divorce. The very first question I ask is which one of you is not a Christian. This first question might seem strange to some of you, but I have had the opportunity to lead some to the Lord because of this question.”

      Wow. Wow. That is so wonderful that God has used you and your question to lead some to a saving knowledge of Christ, and to occasionally save marriages.

      Thank you for doing something, and asking something that I don’t think many pastors would do and ask. I commend you highly.

      • Frank L. says

        I am not sure what that question means in regard to marital problems.

        Christians get divorced in about equal numbers.

        Do we assume one is lost if one’s marriage doesn’t work out?

        I’m not following the logic.

        • says

          Frank,

          I’m having a hard time chewing on this one myself. For the reason that you mentioned and also because I have heard similar logic when Christians decide to end a marriage because it “isn’t God’s will”. They were married before becoming Christians. They had no idea what marriage was. Now they (or one of them) has been saved. The marriage gets tougher. The Christian wants out. The rationale is that since she wasn’t a Christian when married, it wasn’t God’s will, it’s not really a God-ordained marriage, and therefore, it is okay with her to divorce. Seems to fly in the face of Paul’s counsel.

          But I figured I may not be understanding Jess and the others correctly, that’s why I’ve reserved comment until now.

          • Frank L. says

            Mike, I was thinking about the prevailing attitude among SB’s over the years in regard to “divorce” as the Baptist version of the unpardonable sin.

            I remember a very prominent (still on T.V.) SB preacher who pastored just such a church where divorced men could not serve as deacons or pastors.

            Then, this beloved pastor’s marriage ended in divorce. He’s still the pastor. What changed?

            I also agree with you that many people have the idea of marriage all wrong. I’ve heard the same excuses in marriage counseling in regard to a “pre-Christian marriage.”

            Marriage is as binding in God’s eyes for a pagan as for a believer. The act of “one fleshness” applies to mankind, not just Christendom. It’s like any other moral law. It is eternal because it is grounded in God’s Person.

            The Bible offers much help in saving a wayward marriage — if people will commit to the vows they have taken. Divorce, from my perspective, always causes a loss. It is never the “best” step. Sometimes, it is inevitable because of the hardness of hearts.

        • Randall Cofield says

          Frank & Mike,

          I can’t speak for Jess, but here is my take on his question.

          If a couple comes to their pastor claiming they want a divorce, either:

          A) They are saved and are either unaware of or unconcerned with scriptural teaching on this matter,

          or

          B) They are lost.

          “B” is sometimes the case. Even when it isn’t, “B” is a pretty pointed way to expose “A.”

          I thought Jess’ question is brilliant.

          • dean says

            Frank, I have absolutely no dog in this fight at all. However, I do want to say that if you are referring to a particular church in Georgia it was not the divorce that disqualified the deacons it was a remarriage. The pastor has not remarried and does not plan to from what I understand. Surely no one’s standard for ordination is you may not be divorced? If you interpret Paul’s writing to Timothy as speaking about divorce wouldn’t it be the second marriage that disqualified you?

          • Frank L. says

            Randall,

            I don’t think you cover all the options.

            What about those who are believers but simply do not have the spiritual strength or maturity to overcome the challenges.

            In other words, what about Christians who simply fail. Do they lose their salvation? Are they somehow “less” saved than a couple who manages to stay married legally?

            What about a person in your church that never reads their bible, doesn’t pray, never witnesses and generally does nothing a believer should do, but they manage to stay married–do you also question them about their salvation on a regular basis?

            Your black and white approach to the issue is a bit hard-line for me.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Hi Frank,

            My short answers to your questions:

            #1–Attempt to strengthen them and lead them to maturity.

            #2–No.

            #3–No.

            #4–Yes.

            Mal 2:16 “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”

            Brother, I try to be black and white where God is black and white.

          • Frank L. says

            “”Brother, I try to be black and white where God is black and white””

            Randall, I hope this does not sound disrespectful, but isn’t this what many preachers say? It sounds a bit, “haughty” to me, and I am a pretty black and white kind of guy by nature.

            I don’t think marriage is a “black or white” indicator of one’s salvation. I don’t imbue marriage with any sacramental essence.

            My opinion, and I respect yours, is that most of the marriage issues I’ve dealt with in my years have not been black and white. In fact, the longer I live the more issues I learn are not “black and white” but different shades of gray.

            Many would say I’m just become more “wishy-washy” or even “emerging” in my theology. I can appreciate why someone would make that charge based upon what I just said.

            My defense would be that as I mature I begin to have much more grace in presenting the truth than I had when I started out 35 years ago.

            I sometimes feel like I should seek out those who graciously tolerated my youthful “black and white” zeal, and 1) apologize to them; and 2) thank them that they gave me grace when I probably deserved something else.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Hi Frank,

            I think we may be talking past one another here.

            I don’t think divorce is a measure of anyone’s salvation.

            God hates divorce. I hate divorce. I do everything I can to biblically dissuade those considering divorce.

            I believe anyone who is saved should be concerned about how God views divorce…especially if they are considering divorce.

            Anyone who has no regard for what God has to say about divorce may be lost. And I see no harm in exploring that possibility.

            Is that maybe a little more clear?

            Blessings, brother.

    • Frank L. says

      “”The Gay community may unite according to the law of the land, but will “never” be married in God’s eyes.””

      Now, that part I agree with because God specifically says the marriage union is between a “woman and a man.” He does not say, as I understand the Word, marriage is only between a “Christian man and a Christian Woman.”

      • Jess Alford says

        Yes Frank He does say that, This is what the letters to the churches is about. I cannot find one place in the NT where God puts his blessings on unbelieving couples in marriage.

        • Frank L. says

          Jess,

          I would not say God puts His “blessings” on unbelieving couples, but I would say He does impose His requirements.

      • Jess Alford says

        Frank,

        Divorce is not a measure of anyone’s salvation, but is a pretty good indicator.

        Baptism doesn’t save anyone, but not wanting to be is a pretty good indicator of one being lost.

        The smell of smoke on someone doesn’t make that person on fire,
        but is a pretty good indicator they have been around fire.

        If you love your wife as Christ does the church and the wife loves her husband in like manner, there is no room for divorce.

  5. Jess Alford says

    Mike Leake,
    Frank L.

    First I would like to point out if Christian couples really knew what marriage was and what it means to be married, there would be no divorces in the Church. This is why counciling is so important.

    Problems arise when one in the relationship may be a genuine Christian and the other one don’t know the Lord and yet profess him. Again this is why counciling is so important.

    I have found that when a divorce occurs in the church one in that relationship if not both are lost.

    Carnality should have no place in a marriage. Is the couple spiritual minded or carnal minded.

    I came upon a situation where the husband committed adultry three different times. I call it the way the bible tells it. No adulterer has eternal life abiding in him.

    Some folks will say, look what King David did. I cannot help what King David did, I have to make sure Jess don’t do it.

    • Frank L. says

      “”I call it the way the bible tells it.””

      Of course, we all like to think that is what we do.

      I take note of the fact the the “writ of divorce” was given to God’s people by Moses, and not some pagan group. Hardness of heart is not something to which Christians are immune.

      I’ve known many “believers” who have suffered as a result of divorce. I don’t consider it my calling to add condemnation upon that suffering. I try to view each such situation individually and do all I can to relieve as much pain as I can.

      • Frank L. says

        PS — I said a prayer for you, Jess. I really pray and hope that this biopsy will be great news.

        Stay strong (Jos. 1), Brother.

      • Jess Alford says

        Frank.

        The “writ of divorce” was required because the Hebrew women were treated so cruelly. Before the writ a man could divorce a woman just simply by saying “I divorce you”.

        Not so in the NT. One could remarry if the husband comitted adultry,
        fornication, if the unbelieving departed, or if a spouce died. A divorce could be granted for the first three reasons. Today, we have developed
        another legimate cause, and this is if the wife is beaten. If a wife is beaten her life is in danger and she needs to get out as soon as possible.

          • dean says

            Jess, I see earlier you stated divorce is an indicator of a person’s salvation. Your statement is cold, heartless and completely unfounded. I’m moving in on 30 years of marriage. I’ve had one marriage and wear that as a badge of honor. However, I have counseled dozens of couples with stories that are hard to imagine. I see you have added wife beater. What about a spouse that is addicted to drugs prescription or illegal? What about a spouse who is committing crimes white collar or blue collar? What about a woman who was abused by an uncle when she was a child and now can’t have sex with her husband because of the trauma it causes her emotionally? You are mistaken if you think you got all the situations figured out when divorce is acceptable in God’s eyes. You are even more mistaken if you claim one of these spouses are probably lost because they left.

          • Randall Cofield says

            I see you have added wife beater. What about a spouse that is addicted to drugs prescription or illegal? What about a spouse who is committing crimes white collar or blue collar? What about a woman who was abused by an uncle when she was a child and now can’t have sex with her husband because of the trauma it causes her emotionally? You are mistaken if you think you got all the situations figured out when divorce is acceptable in God’s eyes.

            Brothers, where do we find in scripture that these are grounds for divorce in God’s sight??!!

          • Frank L. says

            “”Brothers, where do we find in scripture that these are grounds for divorce in God’s sight??!”””

            God’s writ of divorce — unless I’m missing something — only specified one broad reason for allowing divorce — hardness of the heart.

            The gospels provide only one ground for divorce, “except for adultery.” So, that would seem cut and dry and, well if it is heartless, so be it. Dean’s post would seem to be nothing more than a “bleeding heart.”

            But, I think Dean gets to the heart of the matter as God Himself pointed out: “hardness of the heart.” That can lead to many complicating factors in marriage counseling.

            I must say, had Jess counseled my sister, there’s a high likelihood she would be dead, instead of divorced. I wonder if perhaps some feel that is a better option?

            I love the Sword of God, His Word. A swing it confidently and boldly every Sunday. But, I pray God will allow me the common sense to realize that in many instances the sword must be handled more as a scalpel, than a weapon. I think Hebrews speaking of dividing the “soul and spirit, joint and marrow” might indicate a fine surgery rather than a divine battle.

            I’m not sure some of us preachers always know when to use the Word as a weapon and when to use it as a scalpel. I think I’m still learning that lesson.

          • Jess Alford says

            Adam G. in NC

            Eph. 5:28-29. Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies
            For no man ever yet hated his own flesh.

            This is where the wife beaters lose out. If you beat your wife you hate her. The reason the Bible don’t mention thisclearly,
            It was something that just didn’t happen. If you beat your wife you were beaten.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Frank,

            God’s writ of divorce — unless I’m missing something — only specified one broad reason for allowing divorce — hardness of the heart.
            </blockquote.

            I'm assuming you are referring to this text:

            Mt. 19:8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
            9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

            I understand this to teach that the only NT grounds for divorce is adultery. Isn’t the “hardness of heart” condemned by Christ here?

            BTW, my first marriage counseling case involved adultery on the husband’s part. To the glory of God, the couple is happily married to this day, some 16 years after they came for counsel on the verge of divorce.

            The Gospel is powerful, my brothers…

          • Frank L. says

            “”It was something that just didn’t happen.””

            Women were treated as property. Where do you get the idea that none of them were abused?

        • dean says

          Randall, that is my point exactly. If we are going to add to the text then we are foolish to think we can come up with all the appropriate grounds for divorce. Just deal with the text. However, I feel divorce is not necessarily an indicator of a person’s salvation.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Dean,

            I’m sorry. I misunderstood your comment. We are in agreement then.

            And again, for the record, I don’t believe divorce is an absolute indicator of one’s salvation….But I do believe if a person has no regard for what God says about divorce, that could very possibly be an indicator of that person being unregenerate.

            Peace, brother

          • Jess Alford says

            dean,

            With all the Bible says about marriage, if someone wants a divorce, you will have to admit something stinks in the fridge.

            The problem needs sought out by the counceler, whether it’s the pastor or someone else.

            We have to stick with what the Bible gives as a grounds for divorce. Who ever we may be.

            I’m not saying the one that wants the divorce is the one at fault.
            The person wanting it may have a legimiate reason.

            The reasons are stated in the scripture. The church needs to do more to help husbands and wives in their relationship.

            I was hired into a place of work and quickly made friends. I was wittnessing to my supervisor, who was not insterested in church at all. He told me why. He said he was active in church and ended up in getting a divorce because of an unfaithful wife.
            He ended up getting out of church. He told me not one member nor the pastor ever visited him and no one ever tried to comfort him from the church.

            He said all the folks he worked with helped him and comforted him. He also said this is now my church. We help one another, and we do all the things a church don’t do.

  6. Jess Alford says

    Folks, I hate to make a few comments and run. I have to go to Nashville
    this evening so I can be there at six thirty in the morning for the biopsy
    of my lungs. Remember me in prayer.

  7. says

    Mike,
    Great definition of marriage!

    I’ve seen too many divorces happen recently and it breaks my heart every time. I give thanks to God for my wife and kids every day. I don’t deserve the wife I have who hangs in there with me to have a good marriage and even help keep the kids involved in ministries to help them learn to pass on the faith that God has given them through our influence.

    • Jess Alford says

      Jim Pemberton,

      I loved what you said here about thanking God every day for your wife and kids. You can disagree with me if you like, I just want all to know that a pastors wife is the hardest job in the church. She deserves a lot
      more recognition than anyone else in the church, this includes the pastor. God through the pastors wife is the glue that holds everything together. God bless all the pastors wives.

  8. Jess Alford says

    There are just a few reasons that allow a divorce of Christian couples.
    Any other reason is not good enough in God’s eyes, even though you obtain a divorce by the law of the land, according to God you are still married.

  9. says

    Our little community has been ravaged by divorce over the past two years. Our church fellowship has had pain inflicted upon it as we’ve seen family members run through the ringer of broken relationships.
    For the four marriages I’ve been involved with, the call for help came too late. The course was set, and divorce was inevitable. Even though one party in each of those marriages came to me for counsel, the other party didn’t want to hear what I had to say, and the party that came to me didn’t want to do what I said. Of course, it’s never too late to heal the brokenness, but there has to be a humility and willingness to change things in the marriage that brought it to this devastating point. Too often, such change is simply not desired by those involved. It’s always the other person’s fault.
    I honestly believe that this is one reason why our church has experienced a decline over the past couple of years. Call it what you like, but it is sin, and the fact is that it’s had a damaging impact on our witness in this little community. (My wife calls it “sin in the camp,” taken from the sin of Achan in Joshua 7.) When the redeemed follow the world more than they follow Christ, we have a problem in the assembly.
    I really like your definition, Mike, and I’ll be using it in the future. Thanks for what you’re doing to support God’s plan for marriages.

  10. Stephen Beck says

    I just wanted to pop in and offer a little pushback on the common stat that Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians. Ed Stetzer relinked today to a previous post where he warns pastors (and other people who want to use stats to make a point) not to confuse surveys that count mere census Christians (those who can say yes to a couple questions on a survey) with data on actual committed, discipled Christians (those who are actually involved in local churches…not the same set as actual regenerate Christians but a heck of a lot closer than what Barna normally reports). Here’s a money quote from another blog:

    Here’s the truth…

    People who seriously practice a traditional religious faith—whether Christian or other—have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population.

    The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice.

    What appears intuitive is true. Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes—attend church nearly every week, read their bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples—enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public, and unbelievers.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/25/factchecker-divorce-rate-among-christians/

    • Frank L. says

      Of course if you divide up the Christian faith under those who are doing better and those who are doing worse and you eliminate all those who are doing worse, the it makes Christianity look pretty good.

      I don’t know anybody who actually pastors that kind of church.

      I guess what you and Ed are proposing is to consider only the “real” Christians in your statistics. The problem I have with that is: how do you make that determination? I guess you could judge “fruits” as we often seem to like to do. That would perhaps have some merit but I don’t think it is foolproof.

      Also, your statistical analysis seems to suggest that anyone getting a divorce is not a “serious disciple.” Again, I don’t know how the “seriousness” of one’s commitment to Christ is determined.

      The Pharisees were pretty “serious” according to Jesus.

      My problem with your partnership with Ed in these types of analyses is that it makes “marriage” sacramental and tends toward making divorce the unpardonable sin — or at the least, right at the top of the hierarchy of sins. Categorization may in some cases be appropriate because of what God’s Word says, so I don’t discount this altogether.

      God does say, “I hate divorce,” so that puts it at least a notch above the sin of liking Rhianna’s music.

      And, I do not argue the proposition that a “serious” commitment to Christ is a great weapon against marriage enemies. I just want to be careful to be “fair and balanced” in dealing with brothers and sisters who are having a struggle I am not having, or may have a failure I have not experienced.

      • says

        I don’t think Stephen is saying what you are representing him (and Ed) to be saying. Notice his qualifiers, “generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples—enjoy significantly lower divorce rates…”

        All they are saying is what that last line in the TGC article says, “Faith and discipleship do make a difference in our lives, but it doesn’t make all our problems go away.”

        • Randall Cofield says

          Stephen & Mike,

          I would certainly agree that practicing Christians no-doubt have a much lower divorce rate. But, then, that is the problem isn’t it?

          I’ve not seen any statistics on the divorce rate among SBs. Would be grateful to know of them if you guys are aware of any.

          Which brings me to what I think is a salient question. If 10m of 16m SBs are AWOL in our weekly worship, do you think our divorce rate statistics as a Convention are appreciably better than the national average?

          Blessings, brothers

      • Randall Cofield says

        Hi Frank,

        I posted this a little further up the thread in response to your post @ December 20, 2012 at 12:31 am (currently #23). Thought you might no have seen it, and it might be relevant here.
        *********************************************

        I think we may be talking past one another here.

        I don’t think divorce is a measure of anyone’s salvation.

        God hates divorce. I hate divorce. I do everything I can to biblically dissuade those considering divorce.

        I believe anyone who is saved should be concerned about how God views divorce…especially if they are considering divorce.

        Anyone who has no regard for what God has to say about divorce may be lost. And I certainly see no harm in exploring that possibility.

        Is that maybe a little more clear?

        Blessings, brother.

      • says

        I don’t know how the “seriousness” of one’s commitment to Christ is determined.

        It’s easier to be committed to a spouse than it is to be committed to Christ.

        Saying that, one can argue that Christ is perfect and spouses aren’t. it is also promised that we will suffer for Christ. Can we suffer for Christ, but not for our spouses? Suffering for one’s spouse is part of suffering for Christ. Fail to suffer your spouse’s ills and you flee from suffering for Christ. There are far greater things to suffer. It’s that simple. A serious commitment to Christ will always entail doing the hard work of keeping your marriage together. Anyone who has given up on their difficult marriage has given up on Christ. It’s that important.

      • Stephen Beck says

        Only the opening paragraph of my comment was my actual writing, the rest was a quote from TGC (sorry, I don’t know how to blockquote cleanly on here). You can click forward that article and check their footnotes for their actual statistical method, including referencing the same book Mike Leake did above, I am not even doing that much homework myself.

        My thesis with no actual data would be something like this: Regular attenders in “evangelical,” “conservative” churches (messily defined: SBC, PCA, A29, EFCA, some others) have significantly lower divorce rates than the general population.

        I did not say that real Christians do not divorce or some other logical fallacy. Actually, I don’t think the Bible forbids all divorce, but it certainly would condemn a very large percentage of divorces in our therapeutic, affectionate, “irreconcilable differences” society.

  11. Jess Alford says

    There is more than one reason a person can obtain a divorce if they choose to.

    1. First Cornithians, 7:15, The unbelieving departing.
    2. Matthew, 5:32, Except for the cause of Fornication (sexual sin).
    3. Mark, 10:11-12 Adultry (a type of fornication) different application.
    4. Romans, 7:2, Death

  12. Jess Alford says

    Frank L.

    A beating could happen to a wife, I think in Lev. if you hurt her you got hurt. Eye for an Eye.

    • Frank L. says

      Can’t argue that perspective, but I do wonder if I’d really want you on a jury if I were on trial :)

      You have the “justice” thing down to be sure — but I’m a bit more needy of mercy.

      • Jess Alford says

        Frank L.

        If I’m ever tried for something in front of a jury, I’d want you for my Lawyer.

        • Frank L. says

          Good one Jess. I hope you know I was just yankin your chain.

          I’m still praying for a good report on your biopsy.